Suozzi, Pilip clash in fiery New York special election debate

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Friday, February 9, 2024
Tempers flare at New York special election debate
Chantee Lans has the report.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- As Republican Mazi Pilip and Democrat Tom Suozzi both vie to fill disgraced and expelled ex-Congressman George Santos's 3rd Congressional seat, the two went head-to-head in what was, at times, a heated debate Thursday evening.

Immediately the gloves came off over the controversial migrant crisis.

"You caused the problem," said Pilip, to which Suozzi responded, "It's been a problem for 35 years."

When asked to lay out her agenda for the migrant crisis, Pilip said, "Building the wall, increase more border control members and on top of it, we have to make sure we need to be tight when it comes to asylum seekers," she shared.

The debate arrived as a new poll shows the race for the NY-3 seat remains tight.

A Newsday/Siena College poll gives Democrat Tom Suozzi 48% and Republican candidate Mazi Pilip 44%.

The 4% lead is within the margin of error of the poll. The poll says 7% of voters are still undecided.

Suozzi pointed to that record during the debate.

"I've been credited by every single newspaper outside good government groups and outsiders with turning Nassau County and bringing it off the bring of a fiscal disaster," he said. "And as I've been in Congress, I've worked hard to bring money back to Nassau County."

Larry Levy, Associate Vice President and Executive Dean of the National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, spoke to Eyewitness News about the candidates and admitted it will be a tight race.

"The best thing the Republicans have going for them is turnout operation," he said. "The best thing Democrats have going for them is a well-known candidate who has transactional relationships with Republicans and Democrats alike and has a lot more money to spend."

He says it all boils down to voter turnout.

RELATED | Democrat Tom Suozzi makes case in special election race against Mazi Pilip: 'The people know me'

"I have hope that people will do the right thing," said Barbara, who voted.

"I voted already," said Carey Slaten.

Some voters, however, are still undecided.

"I definitely have to do a little bit more research before I decide on anybody," said Paulina Sanchez.

The recent poll is the second in the hotly contested race, and both show Suozzi slightly leading -- also within the margin of error.

Both candidates are making their final pitches to voters ahead of next Tuesday's election.

RELATED | Mazi Pilip points to her experience in special election race against Tom Suozzi

Pilip, a registered Democrat, now representing the Nassau County Republican Party, is a mother of seven and the wife of a Ukrainian immigrant who is an Ethiopian Jew.

Meanwhile, Suozzi, a former Glen Cove mayor, Nassau County executive and three-term congressman, comes from a legacy of lawmakers. Both his father and uncle were mayors of his hometown of Glen Cove.

Voters have said they're concerned about several issues including immigration, abortion and the crisis in the Middle East.

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Jim Dolan has the latest.


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